For the next in our College Readiness series, Amber Peters, aka Mizz P, a college and career strategist and workshop leader, shares information on finding college scholarships.
She suggests starting your scholarship quest with search engines like Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com – “they are designed to send you scholarships that match your student profile. This increases your eligibility for specific awards, thereby making it easier for you to find and win money-saving scholarships.” Peters continues, “I would also check your local community (businesses, corporate entities, non-profits) and your network (friends, family) to see what scholarships exist right in your own backyard.” For New York and Queens residents, she recommends Queens-based foundations, non-profits, local business, and your elected officials. “Sometimes your councilman or assemblyman may have funds to give away to talented residents in their district. It never hurts to ask.”
How much of a college education can you expect to pay for using scholarships? Peters says this varies and is largely dependent on the work you put in before and during your search. “The more work you do, the more money you can win.” Scholarships can range from $50 to the full cost of college tuition, but none are guaranteed.
Peters explains that knowing which scholarships you qualify for is possible if you read the fine print. All scholarship sponsors provide eligibility requirements to ensure they get the right pool of applicants. She advises checking the sponsor’s website or application for more details.
What materials do you need to apply for scholarships? Each opportunity is different, but Peters suggests “you should have an essay that clearly describes why you want to go to college and how winning a scholarship will impact your future. Next is a resume that demonstrates your involvement. Some scholarship sponsors will ask you to submit this document or ask you to list your involvement on their site. Last is a brag sheet in case you need recommendations to support your application. The brag sheet is designed to give your recommenders more details to help them draft the perfect letter for you. The more details you add, the better they can sell your application.”
Finally, she advises that looking for scholarships is a full-time job. “You have to stay on top of it in order to be successful which means applying early and often. Platforms like FastWeb.com and Scholarships.com allow you to start looking as early as ninth grade. You can also start keeping a log of popular scholarships you hear about so you have them ready when it's your turn to apply. Juniors and seniors should be actively applying for scholarships all year round. I recommend setting aside a specific weekly time dedicated to research/prep and a separate time for submitting applications. Even after they are admitted, they should continue this practice to ensure they always have enough money to get through college.”
Amber Peters A.K.A. Mizz P. is a college and career strategist & workshop leader. She is the founder of On Track With Mizz P. and creator of the On Track For College App
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